'Dark Knight' tops pre-sales

SEOUL – A series of summer hits has given the beleaguered Korean film industry a welcome box office boost after a dismal performance in the first half of the year. But next week kudos seems set to be Batman’s.

According to a new report by leading distributor CJ CGV, market share for Korean films was 48% in July, with total admissions of 17.5 million nationwide.

            Market share was a marked improvement for local films compared with the 7.8% figure in May and 26% in June. It is also higher than the 19% recorded in July 2007, though lower than 54% in July 2006.

The result was achieved by the highly anticipated local summer releases “The Good, The Bad, The Weird,” with 4.75 million admissions in July was the month’s top score – and it has since passed the 5 million admissions milestone. Among the 6 films that passed 1 million ticket sales mark, three were local films, “The Good, The Bad, The Weird” “Public Enemy Returns” and “Sunny.”

According to separate box office statistics by Korean Film Council, “The Good, The Bad, The Weird” grossed $33.2 million from 5.28 million admissions to date. On the box office chart of the last weekend, pic was knocked off its number one spot by the sensational opening of “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” but still managed 636,000 admissions for three days from Friday to Sunday.

“Public Enemy Returns,” which opened in mid June, appears to have long legs and still ranked at No.10, lifting its cume to $26.3 million gross from 4.18 million admissions to date. In its second week, “Sunny” sustained well at the box office, taking $9 million from 1.43 million admissions.

Another local movie showed an impressive performance. An action thriller by helmer Kwak Kyung-taek (“Typhoon”), “Eye for an Eye” ranked at No.3 on the chart, grossing $5.6 million from 890,000 admissions to date, for production shingle Taewon Entertainment and distributor Lotte Entertainment.

Local titles however are expected to take a back seat in the upcoming frame. After “Emperor” attracted 2.15 million admissions in its first week, next up is the opening of “The Dark Knight.”

Opened unusually on a Wednesday, “The Dark Knight” is currently topping KOFIC’s advanced ticketing charts, and accounts for 49% of pre-sales. On Tuesday, pic attracted a handy 57,000 admissions from previews at 242 screens nationwide. “Emperor” is also holding well with 14% share of the pre-sales market.

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